In today’s world, there is a myriad of movies, video games, and other media, each of which has a fandom—a community of like-minded people that foster passion and love for the medium.
Now, each community has its own character and personality. It’s an identity assumed by the community and can vary from inclusive and even evangelical to exclusive and (sad to say) repulsive. This identity can even be reinforced by a community if some of its members begin to deviate from what it strives to be.
This is exactly what happened recently on Twitter when a Star Wars fan came up with a definition for what a person has to have actually done to be a Star Wars fan.
Ed Powell tweeted out a specific list of things that make someone a Star Wars fan
Image credits: DrEdPowell
Ed Powell, an astrophysicist and an avid fan of Star Wars, tweeted his definition of what it means to be a true Star Wars fan. He explains that having seen the movies doesn’t actually make one a fan. What actually does is things like reading the novelizations, books, and comics, watching the animated shows, and participating in discussion groups.
This is an example of a phenomenon that the internet has come to call “gatekeeping”. It describes a fan base (or a part of it) that is exclusive and picky about who can “join the club” or even enjoy the medium. Needless to say, the Star Wars community was having none of that.
Phil “Satyros” Brucato, writer, journalist, and editor who also worked on Star Wars: Creatures of the Galaxy, stepped in on Twitter together with a number of other Internauts.
People weren’t too happy about the “gatekeeping”, with Phil Brucato saying it best
Image credits: SatyrosBrucato
Image credits: SatyrosBrucato
Brucato tweeted “Well, I’ve not only read books in the EU, I co-wrote some of them. And I think your definition of “a Star Wars fan” is [bull pies].” He continued in another tweet: The definition of ‘a Star Wars fan’ is: Someone who loves Star Wars. You don’t get to decide what that love looks like for someone else.“
A sizable number—over 15,000 right now— of people agreed with him and supported his words, leading to the tweets quickly gaining traction and going viral. This is an example of a community addressing the toxic behavior of its members.
One can play the devil’s advocate and say that Powell has a more puristic (in the positive sense) take on what it means to be a real fan of the franchise, and it’s all right to have that opinion. However, it all boiled down to how exclusive it ended up sounding to the rest of the Internet.
Of course, some people made their own lists poking fun and writing the proper definition of “Star Wars fan”
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… and here are some other one-off additions
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